What’s good for the goose is good for the gander?
Police broke up a crowd of protesters in Hamburg, Germany yesterday, adding fuel to the debate over whether demonstrators for a political cause should receive the same treatment for COVID-rule violations as others who may have flouted those rules, such as religious congregants.
From Deutsche Welle:
Police in the northern German city of Hamburg on Friday intervened in an anti-racism protest, declaring the rally over after just 30 minutes. Authorities claimed the attendees had violated police instructions to adhere to coronavirus rules such as wearing face masks and maintaining physical distancing. Around 4,500 people attended the protest outside the city’s U.S. consulate along the banks of the Alster river. The event had originally been registered for only 250 participants.
The rally was registered under the slogan: “Justice for Floyd — stop killing blacks — stop the racial terrorism in the USA.” Crowds did not immediately disperse following police instructions, with photos posted on social media showing people sitting instead on the ground.
The crowd eventually relented, and fizzled, without violence from either side.
Meanwhile, in France,
[A]uthorities have banned two protest rallies against police violence planned on Saturday outside the U.S. embassy in Paris, citing a COVID-19 restriction on gatherings of over 10 people.
An Australian court sided with police in ruling Friday that a Black Lives Matter protest planned for Sydney poses too much risk for spreading the coronavirus and cannot be held. Thousands of people were expected to rally in Australia’s largest city on Saturday afternoon to honor George Floyd and to protest against the deaths of indigenous Australians in custody.
The Financial Times reports that
A two-week countdown has begun to determine whether the proximity of demonstrators at widespread protests in cities across the U.S. could have sped up a rise in coronavirus cases. After thousands of people joined protests against police racism and brutality — some of them in cities and states still under coronavirus lockdowns — the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was monitoring the demonstrations because the lack of social distancing might put people at risk. But public health experts warn there is no way to predict the degree to which the disease has spread until the test results have been delivered. …The mayors of Atlanta and Washington have … advised protesters to get tests after joining marches.
As I noted yesterday, the protests are outside, masks are ubiquitous, and many participants have been trying to keep six feet away from others. That’s good.
But if the protests turn violent, it is harder for people to stay 6ft apart. Crowds become cramped, people run breathing heavily, and shouting sprays droplets further than in a quiet conversation. Some demonstrators have been manhandled by police, or worse, bringing them in proximity.
While protesters may be younger and less vulnerable, they are also more likely to be black, in a country where African-Americans are almost twice as likely to die from Covid-19, according to the Covid Racial Data Tracker.
CNBC quotes experts who predict COVID deaths are almost certain to rise as a result of the demonstrations.
“It is difficult to imagine that we will not see a spike in Covid-19 transmission due to the protests,” said Ryan Demmer, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.
According to the Associated Press,
Many of the protests broke out in places where the virus is still circulating widely in the population. In fact, an AP review found that demonstrations have taken place in every one of the 25 U.S. communities with the highest concentrations of new cases. Some have seen major protests over multiple days, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
Doctors’ tips to reduce coronavirus risks during the protests are here.
(Image via Shutterstock)